Monday 18 February 2019

O'Driscoll: Amy made me wait before moving in

Brian O'Driscoll carries his daughter Sadie at the end of the match
Brian O'Driscoll carries his daughter Sadie at the end of the match

Mark O'Regan

Brian O'Driscoll has revealed that Amy Huberman turned down moving in with the rugby star when he first asked, preferring to wait until their one-year anniversary.

His much-anticipated book, published this week by Penguin Ireland, traces a path through O'Driscoll's many career highs and some crushing lows.

He says that he asked Amy to move in with him eight months after first meeting her. He had never lived with a girlfriend before, and had been saving it for the woman he hoped would "never move back out."

However, she turned him down, telling him that she'd prefer to wait four months until December, their one-year anniversary.

His says his ideal relationship is one in which he "could just be myself", and with Amy "everything feels natural and easy".

"Even though my success as a rugby player makes her happy, she doesn't want anyone saying she's changed just because a well-known sportsman has asked her to share it.

"I tell her nobody will say it, or even think it, but she holds out."

Read more: 'A French fan came at me with fists flying'

He also gave an insight to the day Amy told the rugby star he was to become a father.

The actress took O'Driscoll to the spot where he proposed to her, and handed him an envelope with a card inside.

The message in the simple handwritten note took a moment to sink in. "First there were two and then there were three".

He said he was initially "flabbergasted" and "panicked" when he read the message tucked neatly inside the envelope. "It's a nice moment, a great moment," he recalls now in his new autobiography The Test.

"It's a few more seconds before I really take it in, but when I do it's the greatest feeling I've ever had, hands down. It supercedes any medal," he added.

The special moment played out in the couple's back garden - in the same spot where he had asked her to marry him.

O'Driscoll proposed to Amy in 2009 with 'Will You Marry Me' spelled out in flowers across the garden.

The former Leinster and Ireland stalwart, who toured four times with the British and Irish Lions, also reveals how becoming a father changed his outlook on life.

His own parents, he said, instilled in their children the importance of good manners, something he is anxious to pass on to his one-year-old daughter Sadie.

"Now, as a father myself, I find myself almost wrestling the food back from my little one if I don't hear the magic word," he added.

Revealing the family man behind the tough exterior, he describes how he likes to play nursery rhymes to Sadie while making her breakfast in the morning.

"I pick up my iPad, type 'nursery rhymes songs' into Google as she lies on my chest," he wrote.

In another chapter, he recalls the moment when he realised the life of a celebrity was not for him, after being named Ireland's sexiest man at a showbiz event in 2004.

He attended the event in Silks Casino on Earlsfort Terrace in Dublin, organised by Social and Personal magazine.

It was a time when he was the rising star of the rugby world.

On the cusp of turning 25, he had flamboyant blond streaks in his hair, which he said was his "little rebellion" against his mollycoddled life as a professional athlete.

His then girlfriend Glenda Gilson was one of the judges, but with hindsight he said he wondered how he could have allowed himself to "walk into this situation".

Following the event, and a subsequent interview on The Late Late Show with Pat Kenny, he quickly realised the world of celebrity didn't sit easy with him.

"I don't feel comfortable with the kind of celebrity that has come my way - and I'm not very good at it either," he wrote.

But he also reveals how he was "afflicted by the "madness" of the Celtic Tiger era by splurging an "obscene amount of money" on a hot tub.

He said while he's not normally reckless with money, one of his biggest financial regrets were forking out his "hard-earned cash" on the monstrosity.

The tub was so big that it had to be craned over the roof of his new house.

"As the summer moves on, there are Saturday nights when I come home and find friends I haven't even been out with sitting up in the hot tub," he wrote.

Years later, when the online auction sites were groaning with unwanted Irish hot tubs, somebody told him he'd probably get €2,000 for it.

"I think about the two grand and I think about the embarrassment of having it craned back over the house.

"I decide it could work as a paddling pool one day, but until then the insects are welcome to it."

The Test is published by Penguin Ireland and is priced at €25.

Irish Independent

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